A year ago, I learned a very special game.
Truly, I was blown away by how exciting and fun Egyptian Rat Screw card game can be.
When you learn the rules, it sounds simple enough. But the dynamics, constant anticipation are great.
And once you get better, this game can develop some incredible speeds.
When I’m not in a mood for a slow, strategic game like poker, I come back to the Egyptian Rat Screw. It’s an incredible experience every time we play.
You want to learn more about Egyptian Rat Screw?
The Background of The Egyptian Rat Screw Card Game
Admit it, when you first heard this name of Egyptian Rat Screw card game, you didn’t know what to think. Right?
It is weird. But that immediately tells you that the game has some history. The Egyptian Rat Screw comes in many name, like Ratscrew, Egyptian Ratslap or ERS, Egyptian Ratkiller, Egyptian War.
While each name has several legends surrounding its origins, none are confirmed. But the game has many similarities with the 19th century card game Beggar-my-neighbour. Egyptian Rat Screw seems to be its more complicated version.
How to Play Egyptian Rat Screw Card Game
Egyptian Rat Screw card game is a fast-paced game between 3 or more players. The aim of this game is to collect all cards to yourself.
Keep in mind that we only review the general rules of the game. That is, the single-deck, 52-card version. But this game, like no other, depends on the rules players agree upon rather than an official rulebook.
- You can play with Jokers as wilds, or not.
- You can play with one deck, or with several to accommodate a bigger player pool.
- You may shuffle the cards. Or not.
You get the idea. If there is a rule you don’t approve of, feel free to change it. At least that’s what people have done for the last 150 years.
To learn Egyptian Rat Screw, you only need to know how to deal and the slap rules. Let’s start by dealing the cards.
First, cards are shuffled and dealt evenly to each player. If the number of players prevents an even distribution, Jokers may be used for balance. Each player must collect their cards into a face-down pile in front of them.
At no point players are allowed to look at the cards.
When the dealer deals the last card, the player from the left places the top card off of his or her pile to the center, face-up. This way, the action continues until one of two things happen. Either a face card or an Ace is dealt, or based on the agreed upon slap rules, a combination can be played.
When an ACE or FACE CARD is dealt
Let’s say you just started the game. You go around, placing one card each until there is a face card. When this happens, the player from the left is challenged to also get a face card and he may get more than one shot.
- If the first card was a Jack, the player on the left has one chance to place a face card.
- If the card was a Queen, the player has two shots.
- If the card was a King. the player has three chances.
- If the card was an Ace, the player has four chances to put a face card.
- If they place a face card, the round continues to the next person.
If he or she fails, the player with the last face card collects the pile, places it face up next to them and starts a new center pile by taking one cards from their original pile.
Slap Rules – This Is Where It Gets Fun
Between waiting for the face cards, you also anticipate certain combinations when you can ‘slap’ or steal the pile. But due to this game having many variations, slap rules for each game must be agreed upon before the start.
Whichever the case, once a combination is dealt, the player who slaps the pile first, wins said pile.
What are the most common slaps?
When a King and Queen is dealt one after another.
When two cards of the same rank are played in sequence (5-5).
When a double is interrupted by a card of a different rank (5-9-5)
When 3 or 4 consecutive cards are deal (3-4-5 or 9-8-7).
As you decide, slaps can come from anywhere. For example, to mix up the game, you can choose combinations of the day, pick someone’s birthday as a combo or pick suits/ranks for certain combinations.
What I love about this game the most is the freedom to create. No other game can offer this.
You may be wondering whether there are any fake slaps or wrong slaps. Of course, with so much anticipation there bound to be mistakes. Whenever that happens, the player must take one, or (more commonly) two, penalty cards from their pile and place it on the center pile.
Note that penalty cards do not play i.e. they don’t initiate slap combinations or start face card sequences.
Egyptian Rat Screw (Rat Slap) Tips and Tricks
There are many Egyptian Rat Screw card game tips and tricks, but they heavily depend on the setting of each game and your own abilities. For example, take the piles that each player wins. There is no rule about whether the pile must be shuffled or not.
It’s up to the players.
If you have a good memory, you may insist on not shuffling the cards. This way you can memorize sequences of cards and wait for good slap opportunities.
Fake slapping is also a strategy, but many players see it as cheating, rather than utilizing your observation. Especially slapping the sequence-ending card after a face card was played.
But, again, these are the rules that completely depend on the players. If you only introduced Egyptian Rat Screw to your friends, maybe it’s not the best idea to add lots of rules.
But as you get better, why not mix up the rules to keep the game fresh and competitive?